Business owners on Aberdeen’s Jopp’s Lane say a proposed masterplan for George Street could be “catastrophic” for local firms.
Rachel Mearns of Aberdeen Academy of Performing Arts is annoyed that firms in the area had not been spoken to about the radical changes envisioned for the area.
Under the council’s plan, the already narrow Jopp’s Lane could have its pavements expanded making it more difficult for motorists to reach businesses.
It comes after councillors were due to discuss the near 100-page masterplan to make George Street “bustling and vibrant”.
But following a heated meeting, it was delayed to a future date.
‘We would lose business’
Addressing members at the Town House before this, Rachel argued the proposal “would not work whatsoever”.
She fears that her loyal customer base of almost 400 families will be put off attending the dance school if they can’t access it easily.
She explained that police told her any vehicles forced to reverse back on to John Street as a result of the change would be breaking the highway code.
“We must have space for cars to pass,” she pleaded.
“Just the consequences road-wise for us would be catastrophic, we would lose business,” she said.
The emotional dance instructor added: “I understand there is a plan to reduce cars in the city centre, but what cost is this going to be to local businesses?
“If our customers cannot access us in a hassle-free way, they are not going to come.”
George Street masterplan cash could be used elsewhere in the city
Rachel also took aim at the timing of the masterplan discussion, as it was added to the agenda just as the local authority launched a consultation on its budget proposals.
She believes the cash that would be used transforming the area could be better spent elsewhere – like on libraries and pools.
But the dance academy principal did welcome some parts of the masterplan including more CCTV and improved lighting.
She explained: “We want the city centre to be rejuvenated and a great place to be – but I just feel in these times, throwing up hurdles for us isn’t the way to do it.”
Fears Jopp’s Lane will become a ‘no-go zone’
Meanwhile, Elane Colville has been running vintage clothing shop The Closet for the last 18 years.
The business was founded in 1980 in Woolmanhill but later moved to Jopp’s Lane.
Elane is “all for change” in the area as she believes it has been “overlooked” in the past.
But she admitted she wouldn’t have known about the George Street masterplan if it hadn’t been for Rachel.
“I’m really happy this has been included in the budget, but to think they would use funds to narrow a street that is already narrow seems a bit crazy to us,” she said.
“If it becomes narrower it will become a no-go zone.”
Businesses want to see ‘targeted positive change’
However Elane heaped praise on George Street, saying its “vibrant” neighbourhood reminds her of the time she spent living in London.
“For George Street to get love and attention is great.
“All of us are happy for change but targeted positive change is what we want.”
You can read more about the proposed George Street masterplan here: